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Senators handcuffed on trade front

Chris Phillips has three points and a minus-15 rating in 40 games for Ottawa this season. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Chris Phillips has three points and a minus-15 rating in 40 games for Ottawa this season. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jamie Langenbrunner is back in Dallas (for a conditional third round pick in 2011), putting to an end one of the bigger rumor topics of the past week.

Elsewhere, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray continues to encounter difficulty in making a deal to improve his struggling club.

The Ottawa Sun reported that league executives claimed Murray, who's been shopping for a trade since late October, was willing to entertain offers for almost anyone on his roster except young defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Defenseman Chris Phillips and pesky left winger Jarkko Ruutu were listed as possible trade candidates, but Phillips recently met with Murray to express his desire to finish his career in Ottawa. The Sun suggested that won't happen unless the 33-year-old blueliner, who is eligible for UFA status this summer, agreed to accept a three-year deal.

Phillips also has a no-movement clause, which means he's likely not a serious trade candidate, unless he decides he’s willing to waive it.

The Sun claimed Murray's priority was to land a quality starting goaltender, but unfortunately few options are currently available. The Sens GM passed on claiming Philadelphia Flyers netminder Michael Leighton off waivers earlier in the week. It's believed the Tampa Bay Lightning is willing to part with either Dan Ellis or Mike Smith, but neither would improve the Sens’ goaltending.

Sadly there's no blockbuster deal out there that can save Ottawa's season. Age is catching up to team captain Daniel Alfredsson and first line center Jason Spezza is out until possibly mid-February with a shoulder injury. Even if Murray was shopping them, their lengthy and expensive contracts make them nearly impossible to move.

Like Phillips, center Mike Fisher has a no-movement clause and doesn't want to leave Ottawa. Ruutu is also a UFA this summer and could be dealt, but he won't net the kind of return the Senators need to turn their season around.

Even young Senators such as Nick Foligno and Peter Regin won't land a season-saving deal. Quite frankly, it would be folly on Murray's part to sacrifice young players for a quick fix, which in all likelihood would fail miserably.

Factor in a lack of salary cap space and it's no wonder Murray cannot make a trade to improve his club. He built this roster and has to live with the consequences for as long as team owner Eugene Melnyk allows him to remain GM.

TIME WILL TELL FOR FLAMES TRADES

Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun recently reported that the coming weeks will determine what moves new Flames GM Jay Feaster will make by the trade deadline, suggesting the team’s placement in the Western Conference standings will be a significant factor in Feaster's decisions.

Sportak broke down the possible candidates into three groups. The first contained pending UFAs such as Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison, Anton Babchuk and Alex Tanguay. The second group includes underachievers such as Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan, while the third involves core players Jarome Iginla, Robyn Regehr and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Should the Flames drop out of the post-season chase by late February, it wouldn't be surprising if most of their UFAs are put on the block, as that's usually what teams in that position do if they have no intention of re-signing a player.

Moving Hagman and Stajan, however, is another matter given their contracts, especially the latter. Stajan has three more seasons at $3.75 million per (with a limited no-trade clause) remaining on his deal.

Feaster has previously stated he'd prefer to rebuild around his core players, so if we take him at his word, Iginla, Kiprusoff and Regehr won't be asked to waive their no-movement clauses.

BLUE JACKETS CLOSING IN ON TRADE?

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has reportedly been busier than his peers shopping around for a trade, but has been unsuccessful thus far.

He could shop blueliner Mike Commodore who, according to the Columbus Dispatch, last week requested a trade after being a healthy scratch in several recent games.

As the Dispatch noted, however, Commodore is carrying an expensive contract through 2012-13 and his lumbering physical style will make him difficult to move.

An Internet rumor recently making the rounds has Commodore shipped to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for left winger Brian Rolston, but this deal wouldn't address the respective needs of either franchise. The Devils would merely be adding another slow-footed defenseman to their defense corps, while the Blue Jackets wouldn't be adding the offensive blueliner they desperately need.

 

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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